Children and Teens

Men and Intimacy: How Do Our Families Shape Us?

“The need for love and intimacy is a fundamental human need, as primal as the need for food, water, and air.”  - Dean Ornish, MD, physician and founder of the nonprofit Preventive Medicine Research Institute in Sausalito, California
Seth’s natural impulse was to shy away from showing his feelings to his girlfriend. That made perfect sense to me, since he grew up with a father who rarely showed affection to anyone in the family.

How would a little boy learn that it was all right to express intimacy and affection if his own father chose reserve emotional expression? Answer: A little boy would not.
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Children and Teens

Good Deeds and Good Mental Health

I witnessed one of the most wonderful displays of charitable giving when I was 16 years old. You see, I was in love with a boy named Brian, who was a bit of a hippie. He had long, wavy, brown hair, which he tied back with a black cord. He had a very peaceful attitude, and he lived in a pair of beat-up, broken-in, faded overalls, which I coveted because they looked tremendously comfortable. But let’s get real: beyond comfort, they were Brian’s favorite item of clothing, and I wanted to slip into them and never take them off.

They had his smell, which I loved. Brian smelled like Dr. Bonner’s Peppermint Soap, fresh air and good genes. Oh, how I loved Brian. But he was in love with someone else, so we remained “just friends.”

One Christmas, his parents decided to give him a brand new pair of (very stiff, very blue) overalls. They were probably sick of him wearing the old ones, which, by the way, did have a few holes. I saw it as my chance to get those pants once and for all. I sweetly asked Brian if I could have his old ones since he just got a new pair of overalls.

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Children and Teens

10 Soothing Thoughts on What Hope Is

Whether you’re contemplating a future where you achieve all your goals, solid A’s on your report card, a big raise at work or an affirmative answer to the request for a date, the common thread is hope. Animals don’t hope, people do. So this is a distinctly human emotion that nonetheless is somewhat ambiguous. These 10 thoughts may shed some light.

Hope is:

Sunshine on a cloudy day.

When everything looks dismal and the solutions to problems nonexistent, hope has the ability to snake through the darkness and cast a warm, healing light. The fact that it can arrive so unexpectedly makes it all the sweeter. Once you experience hope, there’s no mistaking the profoundness of the emotion. Unlike sunshine, however, hope can stick around. Hope will still be there even when the going gets tough.
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Anxiety and Panic

Psychology Around the Net: March 19, 2016


Happy Saturday, sweet readers!

I hope you've had a fantastic week -- better than mine, anyway. We're having a new roof installed and, well, when you work from home, let's just say it's a bit difficult to concentrate with all the banging, hammering, and stomping. (However, the contractors at least chose some of my favorite classic rock hits to blast, so, there's that!).

Despite all the distractions, I managed to scour the Internet for some fascinating information on new research and reports regarding the happiest countries on the planet, the lesser-known postpartum bipolar disorder, the five different personality types, and more.

Enjoy!

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Anger

Daddy Dearest: When the Father-Son Bond Just Isn’t There

Golfing buddies, hiking pals, math tutor, and your hero-in-chief. Or not.

I grew up with an emotionally distant father. His parenting style: disinterested with a minor in disdain. There was an aloofness, even coldness.

I vowed to be different than Dad. And I am. But then, innocuously enough, I mutter one of his pithy sayings. Those thoughts, sensations, feelings overflow. I stew, ruminating on the frayed relationship.

Entering adulthood, my father’s detachment gnaws. The demeaning comments rankle; the coolness stings. When Mom (RIP) was alive, her warmth compensated for Dad’s standoffishness.
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Anxiety and Panic

Raising a Child with Anxiety: One Parent’s Story


My kid wasn't only having tantrums, he was also having panic attacks.

Imagine your child had the inability to focus and sit still with ADHD, the resistance to instruction and discipline of Oppositional Defiant Disorder, the need for routine and order and ritual of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, and the normal tantrums, developmental struggles and poor impulse control of a typical five-year-old. Oh, plus aggression. A lot of aggression. That's my kid.

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Children and Teens

When Being the “Bad Guy” Is a Good Thing

Sometimes the best approach for a parent is to give children choices. For toddlers and elementary school children, negotiating an end to an activity by offering “We can leave the playground in five minutes or ten minutes. Which do you want?” gives a child a sense of control and may be a clever way to avert a tantrum. As children approach the pre-teen and teenage years, however, some choices can be unnecessary burdens adding needless psychological stress.

A young adult, whom I’ll call Robert, shared with me his story. Robert’s father gave him choices that Robert felt were bad for him. The example he gave was around visiting his grandparents. In an effort to be diplomatic his father would say, “We’d like you to come to Grandpa and Grandma’s for dinner with us, but ultimately the choice is yours.”
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Anxiety and Panic

How Childhood Trauma Affects Adult Relationships

Childhood experiences are crucial to our emotional development. Our parents, who are our primary attachment figures, play an important role in how we experience the world because they lay the foundation of what the world is going to look like for us. Is it a safe place to explore and take emotional risks? Are all people out to hurt us and therefore untrustworthy? Can we lean on important people in our lives to support us in times of emotional need?

Complex trauma refers to prolonged exposure to a stressful event. This would include children who have grown up in physically, sexually, and/or emotionally abusive households. Without the safety net of a secure attachment relationship, children grow up to become adults who struggle with feelings of low self-worth and challenges with emotional regulation. They also have an increased risk of developing depression and anxiety.
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Anger

Psychology Around the Net: March 5, 2016


Happy March, sweet Psych Central readers! Only a few more weeks until the official start of spring here in the Northern Hemisphere, and while I have learned to appreciate all the seasons for what they offer, I'm excited to get back to some warmth and sunshine.

This week, I have a ton of news for you! For example, did you know Chris Stapleton's new hit "Fire Away" tries to foster mental health awareness? Or that control issues can contribute to road rage? What about how being a "hopeless romantic" is actually a good thing for your relationships?

Read on, and enjoy!

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Anxiety and Panic

A Parent’s Guide to Understanding Childhood Anxiety

Anxiety is one of the most common mental health concerns for children and adults, and affects approximately 20% of children and adolescents. Children with anxiety are often well-behaved and quiet, so their anxiety may go unnoticed by parents and teachers.

Understanding the type of anxiety is the first thing parents can do to help their children. Is it anxiety or an anxiety disorder? Anxiety is a natural human reaction, and it can prove to be an important function when one perceives danger. An anxiety disorder is persistent, irrational, and overwhelming worry and fear that interferes with everyday life. Anxiety disorders become a true hindrance in a child’s home and school life. A child with an anxiety disorder may become so distressed and uncomfortable, they begin to avoid activities and/or social situations.
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Antidepressant

This Is Why Taking Antidepressants Makes Me a Better Mother


It wasn't until I had visions of smothering my five-month-old daughter that I knew I needed help.

I've struggled with depression since I was 15 years old, and I've tried to effectively treat that depression for 16 years and counting. I've tried talk therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, and light therapy. I've tried changing my diet, changing my job, sleeping more, and drinking less. I've tried prayer, meditation, yoga and running, and I've tried more medications than you can imagine: Wellbutrin, Zoloft, Paxil and even Depakote. And while some things have worked and others haven't, one thing I'm certain of is that antidepressants make me a better person.

Also: I'm a better mom because of medication.
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